You only scratch the surface when talking about Christian Vieri the footballer.
He claims a limited number of team honors with just one Serie A title, two Coppas Italia and a UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup to his name, but make no mistake he was lethal in his time.
The late 1990s saw Vieri reach his peak, with the former striker scoring five goals for Italy at the 1998 World Cup.
His form began in the 1998/99 season when he played a key role in a memorable campaign for Lazio, which won the Suppercoppa Italiana and the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup. They also finished just one point behind Serie A winners AC Milan.
This landed him a £32million move to Inter Milan in the summer of 1999, a record transfer fee at the time.
His time at Inter, however, was very different to Vieri. He was at the San Siro for six years, but at the other 14 clubs in his playing career, he was never there for more than a year.
But that’s Vieri in a nutshell. He was a professional butterfly who made his career on his own terms. This mindset meant he was never going to stick to football.
In a parallel universe, Vieri is not a football icon at all, but in fact one of the greatest batsmen of all time.
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While in top form at France 1998, Vieri shocked reporters by revealing his childhood hero was Allan Border… the Australian cricketing legend.
Vieri spent most of his early years growing up Down Under and naturally took up cricket, and in his opinion he was a very promising player.
“It’s a bit strange that I grew up in Australia, but when I was there it was normal – going to school, playing football, playing cricket, playing different sports. I was a big cricket fan,” Vieri said.
“Even if we were 13-14 we would go and watch Australia play Test matches, ODI matches in Sydney. I am a very big cricket fan.
“I love to play. I probably played more cricket than football at school. You know what we would do? The tennis ball, we would tape it down to make it go faster and swing. I think I would have been the best batsman in the world if I had played cricket. I was a jack-of-all-trades. I was really good.
It’s not just the world of sports he’s immersed himself in. Vieri can call himself a movie star, having played Rocky Balboa’s Soviet nemesis Ivan Drago in the Italian comedy Picasso’s Face, a parody film with a premise similar to Epic Movie or Scary Movie.
While playing he even broke into the fashion world, opening a label with AC Milan icon Paolo Maldini in 2003 – all while Vieri and Maldini played for rival Milan clubs.
Sweet Years, which has been endorsed by a number of top sports stars including Diego Maradona and Rafael Nadal, has proven to be a successful project as it is still ongoing.
Since retiring in 2009, Vieri has ventured into the expert world, but has also branched out into other business ventures.
He is the owner of Bombeer, a premium Italian lager that is primarily supplied to the US market.
Christian Vieri – one of football’s great mavericks. We’ll drink to that!
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